7 Fancy And Fabulous Timepieces From Watches And Wonders 2024

Record-breaking timepieces that stood out at the world’s largest watch fair.

April 25, 2024

The 2024 edition of Watches and Wonders, the holy grail of fine watchmaking, recently concluded in Geneva. A lot was expected of the luxury watch industry this year with two back-to-back solid years of record worldwide sales post-COVID (growing at 7.6 per cent in 2023-22 and 11.4 per cent in 2022-21) and the world congregating at Watches and Wonders 2024, Geneva filled with anticipation.  

Much bigger in scale, bursting with the combined energies of the 54 participating watch maisons, their retailers, partners and global media, the luxury watch fair ticked all the boxes. It is an invite-only event for the first four days and open to the public for the last three; the overall participation saw an impressive number of over 49,000 unique visitors over the week, including 5,700 retailers and 1,500 journalists. The event hashtag #watchesandwonders2024 also shot to the top of social networking sites, with an estimated reach of over 600 million people at closing time.  

And for celebrity appearances, supermodel Gisele Bündchen attended the event for IWC Schaffhausen and soccer superstar Kylian Mbappé was spotted at the Swiss luxury watchmaker, Hublot. There were the likes of industry stalwarts like Patek Philippe, Rolex and Cartier on one side, and challenger brands like Bremont, Norqain, Nomos and Ressence—all exhibiting under the same roof, though split into two storeys for the first time. While all the boxes of numbers ticked, did the fair do well qualitatively on new launches? The novelties were less impressive and did not push the boundaries of traditional watchmaking.  

So, instead of listing the best of watches that made their debut at Watches and Wonders 2024, let us check out the bigger trends and the timepieces that stood out and made the right noises in keeping the excitement up amongst the watch collectors and followers of horology. 

1. The Heavyweight: Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea 

Imagine a watch weighing 332 grams. Also, is the same watch going 3900 metres below sea level? Rolex unveiled an original version of the Oyster Perpetual Rolex Deepsea. For the first time, this diver’s watch was presented in 18-carat yellow gold. The 60-minute graduated Cerachrom bezel insert is in blue ceramic as well as a blue lacquer dial bears the name ‘Deepsea’ in powdered yellow. The robust 44 mm Oyster case of the Rolex Deepsea is water resistant to a depth of 3,900 metres (12,800 feet). The Calibre 3235, which powers the watch, is equipped with a self-winding system and a power reserve of approximately 70 hours. 

2. The Complex: Jaeger-LeCoultre Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual 

The ‘Precision of Complications’ explores a fundamental conundrum of watchmaking: how to maintain a consistent flow of energy while adding complications that require extra bursts of energy. Invented by Jaeger-LeCoultre, the Duometre mechanism was introduced in 2007 as a chronograph and has subsequently been united with other complications, forming a collection. This year, Jaeger-LeCoultre introduced the most complex of them all, the Duometre Heliotourbillon Perpetual (Calibre 388), which incorporates two of watchmaking’s most advanced and prestigious complications—the tourbillon and the perpetual calendar—in one of the most visually appealing timepieces. 

3. The Colourful: NOMOS Tangente

Now what about 31 colours for 31 days in a month? In Geneva, NOMOS Glashütte stunned the world with the iconic Tangente 38 date model presented in 31 different colours, each limited to 175 pieces. The 31 invigorating and vibrant colours reflect individuality and diversity. This special edition brings personality and joy to the world of fine watchmaking, as well as a wide range of emotions and moods. Each watch bears its special name and has its own story—Ariel, Zirkus, Haifischgrau, and Schlossgrün are just a few of their playful German names. Offering a wide variety to choose from there is a perfect match for every personality. The date movement DUW 4101. The hand-wound calibre DUW 4101—made by NOMOS in Glashütte, Germany is regulated according to chronometer values. 

4. The Playful: Hermès ARCEAU Chorus Stellarum

A skeleton horse rider swings into action at the press of a button! The six-piece Hermès ARCEAU Chorus Stellarum watch featuring mobile appliques, engraving and miniature painting, comes to life in a whimsical and mischievous equestrian universe. The Arceau watch was designed by Henri d’Origny with its round case topped by asymmetrical stirrup-shaped lugs and a wealth of remarkable and demanding artistic crafts. Inspired by the Chorus Stellarum silk scarf by Daiske Nomura, this horological marvel transports you into a fantastical realm where skeleton riders gallop alongside gilded constellations—embodied in mobile yellow gold appliques, engraved and painted by hand. Driven by a spring mechanism linked to the 9 o’clock pusher, these characters swing into action at the flick of an ‘on-demand impulse’ animation that sees them prance around a gilded constellation created using the champlevé technique. This alliance of art, relief and radiance is highlighted by a slender white gold case measuring 41 mm in diameter, set with 70 diamonds on the version adorned with a skeleton horsewoman. A matte abyss blue or pearl grey alligator strap highlights the vibrant colours of these two watches. 

5. The Illusive: Reflection de Cartier 

A gorgeous winner from Cartier, Reflection de Cartier. The reflection of the dial on the other side of the cuff’s opening is what makes it elusive. This year, Cartier presented yet another hybrid bangle/cuff watch, a style they have mastered through their long history of catering to a strong women clientele. The new Reflection de Cartier is a modern and chunky piece of gold jewellery with a playful twist in telling time. Available in solid yellow and rose gold variants and three gem-set on white gold options, the quartz-powered watch is concealed and set inside the opening of the cuff. The reflection is made on the polished gold surface on the opposite side of the cuff’s opening, creating an optical illusion.  

6. The Artistic: Lady Arpels Brise d’Etě

Paying tribute to nature, a source of inspiration for the Maison Van Cleef & Arpels since its creation, the Lady Arpels Brise d’Etě watch celebrates the freshness of a summer morning. In this new poetic expression, corollas bloom within the Van Cleef & Arpels garden. White and yellow gold butterflies rendered in plique-a-jour enamel tell the time, but what adds playfulness to this creative timepiece is the flutter of the butterflies thanks to an on-demand animation module, also breathing life into the flowers and their stems. 

7. The Slim: Bulgari Octo Finissimo Ultra

Imagine a mechanical watch thinner than a coin! Bulgari sets a new bar in high-end mechanical watchmaking with the Octo Finissimo Ultra COSC. Never has a mechanical watch resistant to shocks and magnetic fields been made so slim. An achievement that exemplifies Bulgari’s relentless drive to keep pushing boundaries, the benchmark now stands at 1.70 mm, the ninth-world record for thinness for the brand. This new Octo Finissimo Ultra is not only the thinnest mechanical watch ever produced, but it is also the world’s thinnest COSC chronometer.
Footnote: Bulgari does not participate in Watches and Wonders and exhibits its novelties at a private hotel in Geneva. 

Images courtesy respective featured brands.